Vote with media in mind

Steve Anderson, national coordinator of the Campaign For Democratic Media and the Coalition, wants Canadians to consider the media during the general election campaign.

Anderson writes in British Columbia’s online magazine The Tyee: “With online media taking an increasingly important role in the media ecology, Canada is on the brink of a major restructuring of its media and communications system. The government and MPs elected on Oct. 14th will play a decisive role in developing not only the kinds of media available, but also in how Canadians communicate with one another.

“Those of us who care about the role of media in society should take a more active role in this election and inform citizens across Canada about exactly what kind of media system they are voting for.” He goes on to mention “three key areas where the stakes are huge”:

  • “Mega-media as corporations merge” (waves of acquisitions increasing concentration; notably a charge that Vancouver has North America’s highest concentration of media ownership, dominated by CanWest Global.
  • ‘Throttling’: Providers discriminating against some on the Net (aka net neutrality)
  • “Slashes to Canadian cultural media”

Anderson exhorts: “Canadians must create a broad and loud public debate around media issues during this election season. As soon as we have engaged in a real and honest debate about media issues, voters will not stand for an undemocratic, narrowly concentrated media system. Once we have a public debate, the Canadian people will not allow the government to make partisan and ideological cuts to arts and media programs. Once we have a public debate, people from across Canada will demand nothing less than an open Internet. Once we have a public debate, Canadians will vote for the media and communications system they deserve, a pluralistic and democratic one.”

A public debate on media? In Canada, which some rankings place as the developed country with the highest concentration of media ownership?


I’d prefer to think that Canadians care about quality/junk media as much as we care about nutrition/junk food (and food safety). But notwithstanding the odd cry from the hinterland — like Anderson’s Tyee piece — there is not a shred of evidence anyone gives a hoot.

I fear that Neil Postman had it right: in a paraphrase of Aldous Huxley’s warning in Brave New World, Postman predicted, ”it is far more likely that the Western democracies will dance and dream themselves into oblivion than march into it, single file and manacled.”

Still, kudos to Anderson for trying. And, hey, if you disagree with my pessimism, say so — go on, click on the comment button. Please. I’d love to be wrong.